P.R.A.Y. Psalm 119

P.R.A.Y. – Psalm 119 – Oh how I love your law!

Hinterglasbild Psalm 119, 22 (Text) Hammerhof,...

Hinterglasbild Psalm 119, 22 (Text) Hammerhof, Deggenhausertal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Overview:

Goal: To understand the Psalms and Psalm 119 better – not only how they were used in ancient times but how modern Christians use them to pray and worship.

Background: Psalm 119 is considered a Psalm mainly devoted to “Wisdom”. It praises God’s instruction for living or “Torah”. We think of “laws”as harsh rules to be obeyed or face penalties. In the Old Testament context of the covenant between God and His people, God’s instruction is better seen first and foremost as loving fatherly advice intended not to penalize but to give the Lord’s wisdom for obtaining a blessed life.

With 176 verses, Psalm 119 is the longest “chapter” in the Bible. It is obviously longer than many whole “books” of the Bible.

It has 22 subsections or “stanzas” with 8 verses each in alphabetical order – if you’re using the Hebrew alphabet that is! Each verse in each section begins with the same Hebrew letter in fact!

As you read the Psalm, how many different ways of saying “God’s Law” can you find in your translation? In English class we called these “synonyms” – two words describing approximately the same thing! How many different synonyms for “law” can you find?

If the statements the Psalmist makes about his love for God’s instruction were true for your life, how different might your life be? What do you think you’d have to change? A lot? A little? What comes to mind? Is that frightening to you?

Consider this: A Christian man who wants to be a missionary himself goes on Facebook and finds that one of his high school friends is himself a missionary. He is working with people who have never heard about Jesus before, who have never been exposed to “Western Christians”, and who come from a very zealous religion and who risk everything to follow Jesus.

The first man asks “Can I visit you and bring a mission team?”

Much to his surprise he hears an emphatic “No!” – this missionary trains new believers to immediately put in to practice what they learn from God’s Word and share what they learn with others.

This missionary does not want them exposed to outsiders, especially Western Christians who might spread their bad habits to these new Christians. He doesn’t want his converts to think that people can be “Christians” without being, in essence, “Psalm 119 Christians”.

What do you think about that?

Additional Helps and Tools:

  • Use more than one Bible version (i.e. New Living Translation, English Standard Version; New International Version). By comparing different versions, often a question is answered.
  • The  ESV Study BibleNIV Study Bible, and NET Bible have notes can help you understand various Bible issues and provide additional information

Weekly Challenge:

 Read through Psalm 119 this week. Observe, Interpret and P.R.A.Y. through the Psalm and be prepared to share next week.

 How are you doing trying to obey God’s Word when you study it weekly? Are you saying “Yes!” to God and putting it into practice?

 Are you sharing what you learn with other people inside and outside the Body of Christ?

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P.R.A.Y. Psalm 80

Psalm 80 (locusts and boars)

Psalm 80:13 (locusts and boars) (Photo credit: Christop)

P.R.A.Y. Psalm 80 “Restore Us, O God”

Overview:

Goal: To understand the Psalms better – not only how they were used in ancient times but how modern Christians use them to pray and worship.

Background: Psalm 80 can be called a “lament”. It is a heartfelt cry for God to restore Israel’s former faithfulness and sense of living under the obvious blessing of God.

We might call this a “prayer for revival” or “renewal”.

It is impossible to understand the imagery of the Psalm fully without continual reference to numerous other passages and concepts in the history of Israel.

A study bible that lists “cross references” will  help make these phrases clearer.

Look these cross references up, read them in their original setting, and then ask yourself how Psalm 80 uses them.

For example, what does it mean to pray for God’s face to “shine” (v.3)? This is a cross reference, among others, to Numbers 6:25, the blessing the Aaronic priests would pronounce over the Israelites as they marched to possess the promised land.

The writer of Psalm 80 is “in the Promised Land” already. So how would God’s “shining” relate to these people?

As Christians we do not “enter the promised land” so to speak. How might this prayer apply today? How would the blessing apply today? It is frequently used in church services of one type or another.

Many more wonderful cross references should be looked up such as the reference to the “cherubim” in v.  1. Pertinent verses are Cf. 1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2 (1 Chron. 13:6); 2 Kings 19:15 (Isa. 37:16); Ps. 99:1. They ultimately refer to the tabernacle and the “Ark of the Covenant” from Exodus 25:17-22.

As you read those verses, how do they deepen our understanding of God? Why do they describe God in that way?

In the same way, what does the Psalmist mean by “saved”? How does it amplify our understanding of “salvation”?

Additional Helps and Tools:

  • Use more than one Bible version (i.e. New Living Translation, English Standard Version; New International Version). By comparing different versions, often a question is answered.

Weekly Challenge:

  • Read through Psalm 80 this week. Observe, Interpret and P.R.A.Y. through the Psalm and be prepared to share next week.
  • As part of your “observing” and interpreting, answer the questions above.
  • For more tips on how to “Observe” and “Interpret” remember you can always check out this web page: PrayTheBible.net and click on the “What-How To” page, then “Observe”.
  • How will you say “Yes!” to God as a result of studying Psalm 80?
  • Who will you share the message of Psalm 80 with in the coming week? Family? Friend? Co-worker?

P.R.A.Y. Psalm 73

English: Scroll of the Psalms

English: Scroll of the Psalms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

P.R.A.Y. – Psalm 73 – I Envied The Arrogant

Psalm 37 and 73 are both “Psalms of complaint”.

If you have ever said to God (aloud or under your breath) “I try to do everything right and never get ahead! But the people who hate You and care nothing for Your truth always seem to prosper! Something’s wrong with that, God!”

Though both psalms help us recognize these emotions, they both show us that – at some point – a dramatic transformation can and should occur that allows us to bear such injustice by seeing it in a new perspective.

What happened to the singer of Psalm 73, and where did that change happen?

What is the new perspective that eases the pain?

Do you envy the wicked?  How could these psalms help you take constructive action? What might that action be?

Additional Resources: ESV Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, NET Bible

You can compare various translations/paraphrases of Psalm 73 at BibleGateway.com

Here’s the process we use to P.R.A.Y. the Bible

Weekly Challenge:

  • Are the feelings expressed by Psalm 73 toward the wicked who prosper a regular problem for you? How did you deal with it before? How can you deal with it after re-reading this Psalm?
  •  Did you start earlier in the week?  Start working on that again this week.  You may even want to read the same passage everyday to keep it in your mind.
  •  How did you plan to say YES! To God?
  • What is your plan?
  • How will you know if you’ve completed your assignment?

The Riddle of Psalm 89

ethan_psalm89Whether you use a journaling app on your phone… a composition notebook… or fancier journal, it’s useful to write out what comes to mind as you P.R.A.Y. the scriptures.

Here’s a sample of a journal entry.

You may read it and decide “this is better than I could do”… or you may decide “I could do far better than that”. The point is that by recording your efforts to P.R.A.Y. you can focus your own mind, have a record of your spiritual exercises, and have Good News to share (an important part of being a whole hearted follower of Christ).

In other words, “just journal it” then pray it!

The Riddle of Psalm 89

Psalm 89 begins extolling all the Lord’s promises to David. How glorious!

The latter part bemoans the divine chastisement that has befallen David’s succession.

How can both be true and God be faithful?

On its own Old Testament terms it can be true because God’s covenant promises always demand we receive them by faith!

But the riddle most gloriously unravels in light of David’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who is the heir of Adam, Abraham, and David who does not disappoint!

In Him as Rom 3 says, God is Just and yet Justifies in and through Christ!

P. I praise you Lord that in Christ you show yourself perfectly holy yet perfectly gracious.

R. I repent of claiming your covenant promises while being unwilling to live with proper gratitude, holiness, and thanks.

A. Lord restore to your church a true awe and worship before your holiness and love. Let us not exalt one at the expense of the other,

Y. Lord help me to worship you rightly this hour as I properly esteem your holiness and love. Help me to extol your attributes to someone else today.

Image courtesy Ethan @ Photobucket